A small maths lesson for our prime minister

By Marcus Wilson 03/09/2015

This isn’t physics but I do feel strongly about it. John Key today is reported by the New Zealand Herald today as saying, with regard to the refugee crisis:

It’s a global problem. I accept everyone needs to take their fair share of responsibility but actually as a government we have been doing quite a lot over recent years and I have every confidence we’ll do more in the future.

Has Mr Key done his maths on what is New Zealand’s fair share of responsibility? Because it’s rather more than the yearly 750 quota that I’ve heard reported as being New Zealand’s current contribution. Just how many refugees have fled or are fleeing Syria alone. My understanding is that it’s the majority of the population. OK, so I’m not a demographer, but I think 10 million is not an unreasonable estimate. How big is New Zealand on a world scale. Population about 4 million out of about 7 billion worldwide. Roughly speaking 1 in every 2000 people lives in New Zealand. What does 1 in 2000 displaced Syrians look like?  That comes to about five thousand people. It’s an order of magniitude increase in what New Zealand is currently doing. That is just the Syrian contribution. With estimates of about 60 million refugees worldwide, we might reasonably up NZ’s fair share to about thirty thousand people. I know these numbers are very rough but there’s no doubt in my mind that NZ’s current idea of a reasonable refugee intake is at least an order of magnitude too low.